TEN Ballarat secondary schools are taking part in what could be a nation-first survey about the risks of online gambling among adolescents.
The Ballarat Community Health (BCH) research is targeting year 9 and 10 students as well as teachers and parents from government, independent and catholic schools.
The project’s principal researcher Julie Nitschke said the survey was modelled on a similar study undertaken in Canada.
“This research will allow us to better understand the incidence, attitudes and awareness of online gambling among adolescents,” Dr Nitschke said.
“The report will be completed by December 31.”
Dr Nitschke said BCH was awarded funds from the Responsible Gambling Foundation (through Central Highlands Primary Care Partnership) for the study.
“The research is also supported by the Ballarat Responsible Gambling Committee established by the City of Ballarat,” she said.
The Incidents, Attitudes and Awareness of Online Gambling Amongst Adolescents project co-ordinator Nic Prince said evidence indicated that early introduction to gambling could predispose adolescents to problem gambling as an adult.
“As smart phone applications and advances in digital media technology become increasingly available, many adolescents are becoming accustomed to the availability of gambling online,” Mr Prince said.
“A subtle grooming towards a gambling habit is taking place.”
Students from Ballarat Clarendon College, Phoenix P-12 Community College, Ballarat Secondary College, Wendouree and St Patrick’s College told The Courier that online gambling did not seem to be an issue among their peer group.
St Patrick’s College year 10 student Campbell Milne said the survey had forewarned him about the problems of online gambling.
“Aside from advertisement on betting for sports on television, I haven’t had much exposure to gambling,” Campbell said.
St Patrick’s College, headmaster Peter Casey said long term effect of problem sports gambling was largely unresearched.
“Which is why St Patrick’s College is more than happy to participate in survey of this kind,” Dr Casey said.
“We’ll look forward to being involved, seeing the results, and from there working out the best strategies to try and prevent any issues in the future.”